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And no birds sing

Invertebrate numbers nearly halve as human population doubles. The decline of birds might have something to do with this recent news that half the insects (and spiders, crustaceans, slugs, worms) are gone.
posted by sfenders on Aug 30, 2014 - 60 comments

When it comes to China stories, people will believe almost anything.

Westerners are so convinced China is a dystopian hellscape they’ll share anything that confirms it. [more inside]
posted by gemutlichkeit on Jul 9, 2014 - 44 comments

Rolling Coal: Everything Else About It Is Pretty Good

Slate: "Prius Repellent is a perfect introduction to one of the Obama era’s great conservative subcultures: the men and women who “roll coal.” For as little as $500, anyone with a diesel truck and a dream can install a smoke stack and the equipment that lets a driver “trick the engine” into needing more fuel. The result is a burst of black smoke that doubles as a political or cultural statement—a protest against the EPA, a ritual shaming of hybrid “rice burners,” and a stellar source of truck memes." [more inside]
posted by porn in the woods on Jul 6, 2014 - 134 comments

The case for banning fireworks

They're a threat to the environment and dangerous as hell. There's got to be a better way to celebrate.
Look, I’m an environmental reporter, and as such it is practically in my job description to be a killjoy. For this I am sorry. It’s not like I won’t personally be enjoying the fireworks over the East River — which at least can’t get any more polluted than it already is — but I won’t be able to do so without nagging self-admonishments about how fireworks are actually kind of stupid.… Now, as is my professional duty, I pass these nagging thoughts on to you.

posted by Lexica on Jul 6, 2014 - 102 comments

NASA Images Highlight U.S. Air Quality Improvement

It appears that we're doing a bit better... "After ten years in orbit, the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on NASA's Aura satellite has been in orbit sufficiently long to show that people in major U.S. cities are breathing less nitrogen dioxide – a yellow-brown gas that can cause respiratory problems."
posted by HuronBob on Jun 27, 2014 - 20 comments

The Moral Question Of Our Time: Can We Share The Planet?

UN Climate Report: We Must Focus On 'Decarbonization', and It Won't Wreck the Economy - "The basic message is simple: We share a planet. Let's start acting like it." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Apr 23, 2014 - 50 comments

Saving The Bay

Why Are Twenty Far-Away States Trying To Block The Cleanup Of The Chesapeake Bay? After 30 years of attempts, a serious initiative to save the bay exists in the form of an EPA-led plan that limits the amount of agricultural nutrients entering the bay. This pollution causes the "dead zones" in the bay, which are so low in oxygen virtually no animal life can survive. A group of twenty-one Attorneys General, including the AG of Alaska and Wyoming, "argue that the cleanup plan raises serious concerns about states’ rights, and they worry that if the plan is left to stand, the EPA could enact similar pollution limits on watersheds such as the Mississippi." Their actions are in line with the wishes of The American Farm Bureau, a powerful agricultural interest group. [more inside]
posted by spaltavian on Apr 21, 2014 - 57 comments

Pipeline Primer

Factcheck: The Keystone XL Project. An evenhanded summary of the controversy around the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.
posted by bitmage on Mar 15, 2014 - 75 comments

Only coincidentally posted on International Women's Day

It turns out that fish may need bicycles after all. Or, more accurately, fish need more bicyclists, and fewer motorists. "Water pollution attributable to automobiles includes oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, antifreeze, [copper], etc." (via rootsimple.com) See also
posted by ivan ivanych samovar on Mar 8, 2014 - 4 comments

All in all, this isn't bad.

China's air pollution is now so bad it "resembles nuclear winter", say Chinese scientists. The pollution is impeding photosynthesis and potentially wreaking havoc on the country's food supply. [more inside]
posted by stbalbach on Mar 3, 2014 - 53 comments

Big Oil, Bad Air

Here's a multi-media webpage (text and photos, plus scroll down for the enlightening and well-made video) that spells out what's going on right now down Texas way: Fracking the Eagle Ford Shale of South Texas.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Feb 19, 2014 - 36 comments

Sina 2013 Centigrade Photojournalism Contest

Sina, one of the biggest websites in China, is hosting its annual photojournalism contest. The subjects range from: urban pollution, a SARS patient 10 years on, construction & destruction, the biggest fur market in China (warning: somewhat graphic), "The World" amusement park, erstwhile beggars, incense makers, more workers, and a school on the Loess.
My favorite two: hermits and mothers who pump.
posted by of strange foe on Jan 24, 2014 - 2 comments

The true cost of pollution

According to an article in the South China Morning Post, "fog" in Northern China is so bad that the government is finding it interferes with surveillance cameras. (via Quartz.com and mefi's own @ftrain)
posted by maryr on Nov 6, 2013 - 33 comments

As Paracelsus put it, "the dose makes the poison."

Dr Bruce Ames, a toxicologist and one of the world's most cited scientists, discusses the impact of his Ames test, "toxic chemicals," and scaremongering [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Nov 6, 2013 - 22 comments

Fukushima tired of being out of the news, makes new play for spotlight

A Water Storage Nightmare: Fukushima Daiichi is back in the news. "Highly radioactive water seeping into the ocean from Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is creating an 'emergency' that the operator is struggling to contain."
posted by saulgoodman on Aug 5, 2013 - 68 comments

Meet the Saugets

"We were basically incorporated to be a sewer." The small village of Monsanto, Illinois was incorporated in 1926 to be a low-regulated tax haven for Monsanto Company's chemical plants. These days it's named Sauget, after the family which runs virtually every aspect of it—its real estate, its minor league baseball team (which plays on Sauget Field), and several of its nightclubs, of which there are so many that they are collectively known as the Sauget Ballet. The town's pollution has led to numerous lawsuits, and inspired the song Sauget Wind by alt-country group Uncle Tupelo. [more inside]
posted by Rory Marinich on Jul 18, 2013 - 19 comments

2013 Southeast Asian Haze

Forest fires due to slash and burn farming in Sumatra, Indonesia have led to unprecedented air pollution levels in Singapore and Malaysia. In Singapore particularly, Facebook and Twitter are aflame as well. For a country used to very clean air, the sudden pollution has led to public outcry, with air purifiers and face masks being snatched off the shelves. So far, no stop-work-order has been issued, and there are complaints that the government is not tackling the situation rapidly enough. Indonesia is working to put out the fires and is considering cloud seeding; their response to pressure from Singapore to do more was that Singaporeans should stop behaving like children and not disturb their domestic affairs. While image macros about the 2013 haze continue to fill up Facebook feeds, some people are taking the whole affair in a more irreverent way. [more inside]
posted by destrius on Jun 20, 2013 - 44 comments

Deep Sixed

In the deep sea, low oxygen levels, scarce sunlight, and freezing water limit the rate at which items decompose: Something that might survive a few years on land could exist for decades underwater. - ROVs photograph trash on the ocean floor.
posted by Artw on Jun 8, 2013 - 37 comments

Crazy like an Arctic Fox

Scientific American reports: "An isolated population of Arctic foxes that dines only on marine animals seems to be slowly succumbing to mercury poisoning." Though a definitive causal link is difficult to establish, an isolated population of arctic foxes on Russia's Mednyi Island is believed to be collapsing due to mercury contamination as a result of its seafood-heavy diet. Where does all that mercury in the environment come from anyway? Why, it's another biproduct of burning fossil fuels, of course, and predictably, rates of mercury pollution are only expected to increase. In some places in the US, even rainwater is showing high levels of contamination. [more inside]
posted by saulgoodman on May 10, 2013 - 25 comments

We're Going To Have To Find Out How To Deal With Lots Of Idle Hands

The Forces Of The Next 30 Years - SF author and Mefi's Own Charles Stross talks to students at Olin College about sci-fi, fiction, speculation, the limits of computation, thermodynamics, Moore's Law, the history of travel, employment, automation, free trade, demographics, the developing world, privacy, and climate change in trying to answer the question What Does The World Of 2043 Look Like? (Youtube 56:43)
posted by The Whelk on Mar 27, 2013 - 18 comments

Air Pollution in Asia: Real-time Air Quality Index Visual Map

Air Pollution in Asia: Real-time Air Quality Index Visual Map [more inside]
posted by KokuRyu on Mar 7, 2013 - 14 comments

I love nature. I hate pollution

Children's Eyes on Earth 2012 photography contest [more inside]
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Jan 5, 2013 - 4 comments

291 diseases and injuries + 67 risk factors + 1,160 non-fatal complications = 650 million estimates of how we age, sicken, and die

As humans live longer, what ails us isn't necessarily what kills us: five data visualizations of how we age, sicken, and die. Causes of death by age, sex, region, and year. Heat map of leading causes and risks by region. Changes in leading causes and risks between 1990 and 2010. Healthy years lost to disability vs. life expectancy in 1990 and 2010. Uncertainties of causes and risks. From the team for the massive Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study 2010. [more inside]
posted by hat on Dec 14, 2012 - 11 comments

I think I mentioned we also saw an actual knife fight in this same alley! With big giant meat cleavers!

Davesecretary of TIME FOR SOME STORIES fame (previously) decided to spend a year in a smallish Chinese city to figure out what he wanted to do with his life. He slowly realizes that he's not having a very good time.
posted by The Whelk on Nov 21, 2012 - 87 comments

I love a sun-powered country, A land of deepening mines, of ragged nuclear plants, of biomass and hydropower

While developed countries are pondering whether they should sign up to The Kyoto 2 Protocol and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 5% by 2020, based on 2000 levels which may be of questionable impact, the tiny Pacific territory of Tokelau has ditched its primary source of electricity generation, costly diesel imports, in favour of 100% renewable solar power, becoming the first nation in the world to do so, at a time when the global energy systems of the 21C are struggling towards decarbonisation. [more inside]
posted by Mezentian on Nov 9, 2012 - 60 comments

The Long, Balanced Haul

Cargo bikes, long a mainstay in the Netherlands and emerging as an automotive alternative in the U.S. (via bike-friendly Portland), come in many flavors: Longtails, longjohns, cycle trucks, porteurs, trikes and the traditional Dutch bakfiet. Will a cargo bike transform your life?
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot on Oct 26, 2012 - 73 comments

CO2 make dumb

Have you ever been in a room with lots of people and not great ventilation. Or even a room with normal ventilation. You may be cognitively impaired due to elevated levels of CO2 once considered safe now thought enough to make you a little dumb. 600ppm is now thought too much, but “there are plenty of buildings where you could easily see 2,500 ppm of CO2 — or close to it — even with ventilation designs that are fully compliant with current standards.. classrooms frequently exceed 1,000ppm." [more inside]
posted by stbalbach on Oct 18, 2012 - 50 comments

Real life Gamma World

Imagine a lake so polluted and contaminated that spending just an hour on its shores would result in certain death, and the only way seen fit to deal with it is to fill the entire water body with concrete blocks to keep the toxic soil underneath from moving onshore. That lake is Lake Karachay in Russia’s Chelyabinsk Oblast, and it is considered by many to be the most polluted place on the planet.
posted by Chrysostom on Oct 3, 2012 - 31 comments

High Tech's Dirty Little Secret

"Of all the things the Internet was expected to become, it is safe to say that a seed for the proliferation of backup diesel generators was not one of them." Power, Pollution and the Internet [sl NY Times]
posted by nowhere man on Sep 23, 2012 - 91 comments

Unlivable cities

China's megalopolises are "awful places to live" claims an article in Foreign Policy by Isaac Stone Fish. [more inside]
posted by airing nerdy laundry on Aug 30, 2012 - 70 comments

I'd like to buy the world a giant garbage patch in the ocean

Sodastream will ignore a cease-and-desist letter from Coca-Cola regarding a marketing campaign in South Africa (and ~20 other locations) referred to as "The Cage."
posted by mrgrimm on Jun 19, 2012 - 207 comments

Lucky Act 13

Pennsylvania has adopted what may be the most anti-democratic, anti-environmental law in the country, giving gas companies the right to drill anywhere, overturn local zoning laws, seize private property and muzzle physicians from disclosing specific health impacts from drilling fluids on patients. This American Life on fracking in Pennsylvania. Fracking: Anatomy of a Free Market Failure. Previously in Pennsylvania. [more inside]
posted by gerryblog on Mar 14, 2012 - 88 comments

"There's no way to argue with that, except with explosives"

END:CIV [full 75 minute movie] "If your homeland was invaded by aliens who cut down the forests, poisoned the water and air, and contaminated the food supply, would you resist?" [more inside]
posted by Burhanistan on Mar 9, 2012 - 37 comments

Chinese heavy metals

About one tenth of China's farmland is polluted with heavy metals, with whole villages being poisoned. All too frequently, local governments have reacted by ignoring the problems and even denying treatment (HRW report).
posted by jeffburdges on Nov 9, 2011 - 37 comments

A place apart, in peril

Tangier Island, Virginia, is mere inches above the Bay around it. There isn't much dry land. Kids play on the airstrip. The people have a unique accent (which is becoming hard to find). With the land mostly marsh, folks bury their dead in their yards. It's a watery place, but charming. If Irene delivers even a glancing backhand blow, the entire island will be underwater. [more inside]
posted by kinnakeet on Aug 25, 2011 - 51 comments

We will sing of the vibrant nightly fervor of arsenals and shipyards blazing with violent electric moons.

Industrial Scars: The Art of Environmental Pollution is a serious of gorgeous, abstract photographs by J Henry Fair of polluted industrial landscapes.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn on Jul 28, 2011 - 23 comments

Asian pollution temporarily slows global warming

Although the past 12 years have seen the warmest 10 years on record, temperatures have remained fairly steady, even while CO2 emissions grew by nearly a third. Temperatures should have been increasing during this period, rather 1998 was tied with 2010 for hottest on record. Now a study suggests why (pdf): sulfur emissions from Asian coal plants (China mostly) are so high they mimic the effects of a volcano which can cause short term cooling by reflecting light back into space. Insidiously, the long-term warming caused by CO2 (coal) has been masked by short-term cooling of sulfur (coal).
posted by stbalbach on Jul 5, 2011 - 85 comments

Beating the heat, and the pollution, in New York rivers

The long-polluted New York rivers are getting cleaner, but can still be dangerous to swim in. There are efforts underway to clean up the Bronx River, but that will take years, if not decades. Until then, signs are posted, warning would-be swimmers, yet people still risk sickness to battle the heat. One current safe solution is the Floating Pool Lady, a barge that was remade into an 82-foot-long city parks department swimming pool. She first arrived in the Bronx in 2008, and she'll return to the Bronx in a week. There's a new Big Idea to bring swimmers back into the rivers: the +Pool, a floating swimming pool located within a river, designed with a series exterior walls to filter the river water and make it safe to swim in. While that's in the early design stages, you can take a chance and jump in a swimming hole.
posted by filthy light thief on Jun 24, 2011 - 26 comments

No more seafood? So what? It was all lousy with mercury anyway.

"Ocean Life on the Brink of Mass Extinctions," warns a new comprehensive study from "a 2011 workshop of ocean experts staged by [International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO)] and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) at Oxford University." The most likely culprits in the unfolding, large-scale disaster? Pollution and climate change, say the experts. What else is new, you say? Well, the schedule's been changed up: "Marine life facing mass extinction 'within one human generation,'... says global panel of scientists." [more inside]
posted by saulgoodman on Jun 22, 2011 - 116 comments

Between rail and road in Beijing

China’s capital is restricting car numbers and pumping money into trains. Is it headed for a less congested future – or already a city beyond help?
posted by wilful on Jun 14, 2011 - 55 comments

Who cares?

Coal cares! "Puff-Puff™ inhalers are available free to any family living within 200 miles of a coal plant, and each inhaler comes with a $10 coupon towards the cost of the asthma medication itself." [more inside]
posted by cmoj on May 11, 2011 - 23 comments

Yale's 2010 Environmental Performance Index (EPI)

Yale's 2010 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) ranks 163 countries on 25 performance indicators tracked across ten policy categories covering both environmental public health and ecosystem vitality. These indicators provide a gauge at a national government scale of how close countries are to established environmental policy goals.
posted by wilful on Apr 22, 2011 - 8 comments

The Price of the Paperless Revolution

Essays on mining and its environmental and human health costs in the Fall 2010 Virginia Quarterly Review: Digging Out; Tin Fever; The Pit; Here Everything is Poison, The Solution: Bolivia's Lithium Dream; The Underground Giant: Life in the Hard Rock Mines of Quebec and Ontario; Jharia Burning; Mother of God, Child of Zeus. Editorial: The Price of the Paperless Revolution.
posted by cog_nate on Mar 3, 2011 - 10 comments

Still Great?

Waterlife — No matter where we live, the Great Lakes affect us all. And as species of fish disappear and rates of birth defects and cancer rise, it seems one thing is clear: the Great Lakes are changing and something's not quite right with the water. An interactive documentary film from the National Film Board of Canada. [more inside]
posted by netbros on Feb 26, 2011 - 20 comments

The Warriors of Qiugang (39 minutes)

The Warriors of Qiugang: A Chinese Village Fights Back, nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject). [more inside]
posted by stbalbach on Jan 26, 2011 - 5 comments

Diesel Rat Rod Burnout

Every time this guy peels out, God kills a baby panda. So offensive it becomes kinda glorious. (slyt, SFW)
posted by Tom-B on Jan 19, 2011 - 108 comments

Total jelly domination - “like cockroaches”

"The world’s oceans have been experiencing enormous blooms of jellyfish, apparently caused by overfishing, declining water quality, and rising sea temperatures. Now, scientists are trying to determine if these outbreaks could represent a “new normal” in which jellyfish increasingly supplant fish.. Total jelly domination would be like turning back the clock to the Precambrian world, more than 550 million years ago."
posted by stbalbach on Jan 13, 2011 - 69 comments

Global air pollution maps

NASA has some new maps showing air pollution around the world. It shows PM2.5, that is, Particulate Matter less than 2.5 micrometers in size, small enough to get past normal bodily defenses and cause health problems. [more inside]
posted by stbalbach on Sep 23, 2010 - 32 comments

But do they have any bottlecaps?

"Places like Picher are why Congress passed the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980—better known as the Superfund bill." - Wired Magazine on the most toxic town in America, Picher, OK , and the people who still live there
posted by The Whelk on Sep 5, 2010 - 21 comments

Executive Decarbonization

With the climate bill dead and blame portioned, Ezra Klein asks what happens when congress fails? He concludes that "regulations to reduce carbon emissions are alive and well. The Environmental Protection Agency can attack carbon as a pollutant, and the Obama administration's announcement that efforts to hamstring the EPA will be vetoed suggests that they mean to do exactly that." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jul 30, 2010 - 18 comments

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